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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Support for Japan PM 'at new low'
Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe's popularity has plummeted in the last 10 months
Support for Japan's embattled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has fallen to its lowest level yet ahead of crucial upper house elections, a new poll has shown.

According to a survey by Jiji Press, Mr Abe's popularity stands at 25.7%, his worst rating since taking office in September last year.

A second poll by the Yomiuri newspaper showed more support for the main opposition party than the ruling party.

A heavy defeat in the 29 July elections could propel Mr Abe from office.

A loss would not automatically cost him his job, as it is the lower house which chooses the prime minister, but would likely lead to pressure on him to step down.

According to the Jiji poll, 53.2% of respondents disapproved of Mr Abe and his Cabinet.

In the Yomiuri poll, meanwhile, support for Mr Abe and his Cabinet stood at 30.2%, while his disapproval rating was 57.7%.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would back the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in the polls, compared to 21% for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

As campaigning kicked off on Thursday, Mr Abe acknowledged that he and the LDP were facing "a very tough battle".

His government has been hit by a series of ministerial scandals and a row over the loss of millions of pension records.

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